This is a letter I wrote to Indochina Odyssey after our 3 week trip. I cant recommend them enough.
I wanted to let you know how our trip was. It really exceeded my expectations. I have traveled all over the world and usually you can expect a few bumps and problems, but with IOT there really were none. All of the guides were on time, and always waiting for us when we got off the plane. Most of the vans were perfect for travel with good views. The hotels that you picked were top notch, but we especially liked the more boutique hotels.
Our favorite guides were Yassana in Bangkok, and Khanh in Saigon they deserve special mention. We also loved Ting in Laos, and Joe in Cambodia and Nam in Hanoi. All were very professional and knowledgeable. What I liked best about the trip was that it didn't feel like we were on a tour, it felt like we were traveling with local friends, and I think we made some friends on this trip that we will keep in touch with.
Bangkok was great, the temple and palace tours were amazing. The floating market trip was enjoyable, but a little too much like "Disneyland"- but we are still glad that we did it.
Kao Yai, was an adventure- we did see a wild elephant and that was exciting! We enjoyed the hiking and it was a nice break from the city.
The trip to Ayuttha was nice, the boat was a bit touristy for us, but we did enjoy the relaxing ride very much.
Vassana our guide worked very hard to make sure we saw everything. She was joyous and lovely and seemed to really care about what kind of time we were having. She is an amazing find for your company! We were so sad to leave her!
Chiang Mai was a very nice city. (We stayed at the Four Seasons which was pretty incredible) The van there was difficult to see out of due to the height of the seats and the windows, but he white temple was amazing and worth the drive. We probably would skip the Long neck village and golden triangle if we came again as it seemed like it was only for tourists and for selling souvenirs.
One of the highlights of the trip is the Elephant Life Experience. It may be our favorite part of the trip. I can't say enough about the staff at the camp- everyone was so nice and the elephants seemed very happy and taken care of. I would say all your clients should try this place as it is a very special experience. A+ ! Probably the best time on the whole trip!
I had almost cut Laos from the trip to save some time, but I am glad that I did not. I think that was our favorite country, and we can't wait to return. It was our favorite because it seemed least influenced by the west. Our guide Ting was so nice and worked very, very hard, with some very long days and lots of stairs. He was an amazing and smart guy. We really liked Ting alot!
The program in Luang Prabang and the boat ride to the Buddah Cave were perfect.
I also want to mention the 3 Nagas hotel- what a special find! We loved that place and the staff was so helpful and wonderful. And the breakfasts were very good. I will definitely stay there again!
Laos is a MUST see- people should not skip it!
Our trip to Hanoi was short and the cruise in Halong Bay was very nice. The cruise line Bayan was excellent, and the ship was very nice. It was well timed to give us a break from all of the palace, market and temple touring. Halong Bay was a great break.
Nam, our guide in North Vietnam was excellent and very nice. We weren't with him as much because of the cruise, but he made some special trips that he thought of on his own for our trip back to Hanoi. He took us off the beaten track to a local temple, and then to a local market where one woman had never seen a westerner! This extra attention made us feel very special. We really liked Nam very very much!
Siem Reap was excellent, the Grand Palace hotel you chose was great- I especially liked Molika at the front desk she was so helpful and professional.
Our guide in Cambodia, Joe was terrific, he knew everything about all the temples at Angkor. He knew all the dates, and history. He even walked us through one temple we wanted to see in the pouring rain without any complaining. He really seemed like he wanted us to see as much as we could. Joe was excellent!
Angkor is a must see and we truly loved it- it is obviously touristy, but Joe did take us to some places that were obviously for locals! I think we may be a bit different from other tourists because he seemed surprised that we wanted to see local areas more than "Pub Street".
Cambodia is an amazing country and we loved it!
We loved Ho Chi Minh City and all of Southern Vietnam. The day spent in the Mekong Delta, was one of the best of the trip- due mainly to our guide Khanh. He was so much fun and definitely pushed us into the local culture, which we loved. He is a very special guide, and you should use him as much as possible. He even suggested we start at 6 am to see the men with birds in the park- so he must have gotten up very early. Like most of the other guides we really thought he cared a great deal about whether or not we were having a great time!
The trip was amazing! And thank you Echo for changing the itinerary so many times for me, I know it was a lot of work for you.
Hopefully we will be planning another trip soon! We miss South East Asia already!
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